18 January 2014

Dwell on this...

Author Unknown
‘Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed.
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter.
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I fllew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!

The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus! returning just like He had said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;
When He said “it’s not here” my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound.
While all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There’s only one life and when comes the last call
We’ll find that the Bible was true after all.
x0, d

14 January 2014

Daily Cleansing.

I'd hate to bring this up again, because it's sounding redundant, but in December I was laid out for close to 2 weeks.  Most of those days were spent in bed.  Sick.  Against my wish and against my will.  The desire to craft even left me for that time; and I didn't miss it.

I fell behind on my housework, and things got messy & chaotic.

I started feeling better the last day of 2013, but with preparations for 2014, I was more concerned with other things; i.e., I didn't get to do any deep cleaning.

A week into the new year we joined our church in a 21 day fast (which is what prompted this blog), and along with a strict food fast, I felt from God to fast from social media & crafting.  I didn't understand why, because neither of those were sinful, but I obeyed.  (Later I realized it was because those were becoming my idols - putting & spending more time with that before Him).

Deuteronomy 4:24 - For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Exodus 20:3 - You shall have no other gods before me.

On the 2nd day of the fast I found my body to be weak.  Lazy.  I slept most of the afternoon; with feelings of guilt.  Because shouldn't I be reading the word during this time instead?  But I could not muster up the energy.  The following day (Wednesday), came with the same symptoms.  All my plans to do some deep cleaning were at a stand-still.  Imagine not being able to clean all week, let alone 3-4 weeks!  The laundry baskets piled.  The shine, the floors once had, becoming gray.  And toys were everywhere!

It was overwhelming for me to see; all the while feeling tired and guilty.  I had such wonderful plans to be up extra early everyday.  Get my praise & worship on.  Get my bible on.  Get my studying on.  Then be ready to tackle the day.  To complete a household task each day.  But I was beginning to fail already at my New Year's goal.  All I could do was wake up (when my son woke me up), and get enough energy to make him something for breakfast.  Then return to bed.  At least I was able to read & study in bed, as I rested (I thought).

Wednesday evening, as we got ready for church, I felt faint.  To the point of nearly passing out.  I had to drag myself from the bathroom to the bed and lay on my back.  Breathing heavy.  Trying to focus on something surrounding me, since the moments earlier had left me seeing white and yellow flashes of blurry light.  I was able to get up after a few minutes and continue brushing my hair, but I knew something odd was happening to me.

It got to the point where just taking a shower took all strength in me to do.  Walking back to the bedroom, from the bathroom (which is right in my bedroom), took my breath away.  I'd have to sit for a few minutes and catch my breath.  (I never used my inhaler as much as I did last week!)  It was something I had never experienced before.

I knew it had something to do with the change of food intake.  But I had vowed I would not give up on the fast.  I didn't want to fail or disappoint God.  Being dizzy, fatigued and weak was a SMALL price to pay for everything He's done and everything He wants to do in my life.  So I continued on my fast, but I upgraded to a meatless salad for lunch, instead of just a bowl of fruit. And added brown rice to my all veggie & protein dinners.

Grilled zucchini, brown rice & honey garlic wings.
(all natural)

Saturday my husband took me to Med Express.  I had been there 2 weeks earlier for the infection in my ear & throat, so I knew the care would be swift and detailed.  Thank God that the report on diabetes came back negative, and that all other vitals were normal.  But I was still lethargic.  Having a history of anemia would also define why my body was malfunctioning.  But I was determined to continue.

That afternoon we were able to complete some errands, including visiting a Farmer's Market we hadn't been to in a couple of years.  Slowly I was getting back a little of the strength in my limbs; a wonderful realization after having suffered jello arms all week.

Sunday we went to church, and although I was still experiencing shortness of breath, I had strength.  I was able to help set up benches for a little bit, but in the middle of worship I became winded and sat down.

Isaiah 40:29 - He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Isaiah 40:31 - but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Philippians 4:13 - For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 

By Sunday evening Monday morning my strength was at 75%.  And today (Tuesday), I woke up with so much energy and so much enthusiasm.  I was able to do some deep deep cleaning on the 2nd floor.  Which is where our living room, dining room and kitchen are located.  It was NASTY!

I give thanks to God for my  patient & caring husband.  Because after a hard day of physical labor, he would help me with Gio and he would cook our dinners.  He is heaven-sent. I am blessed with a great man/friend/husband, because any other man would have either ended the fast and gotten take out, or complained, argued and yelled.

Since I found myself with so much stamina today, I set up my son in the living room with his fav show, set myself up with Pandora in the kitchen, and began clearing up the rest of the Christmas decorations.  (We took the tree down on Saturday).  I spent over 2 hours cleaning, and did it with such joy.  I felt so grateful for the energy I received to do it.  And it helped that I asked God to give me the strength, motivation and desire to do it.

As I rinsed the last tupperware, I rejoiced (singing along with Pandora) at how clean and tidy everything looked, but still thought of the rest of the house and how much was still left to do.  Then a few thoughts came to mind.  "Cleaning the major things (those that are evident & visible) should be a daily task; wiping tables, sweeping and putting away dishes.  Then once you keep a steady rhythm of basic daily maintenance, will you be able to sense/discover/notice the smaller hidden dirt that is not as easy to see; dust, tiny ants behind the sofa, crumbs under the stove top."

Immediately I knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking to my mind.  The thoughts continued...

There are common sins we partake in (those that EVERYONE knows about); for example, we lie, steal & cheat, etc., where when we come to Christ we automatically experience the knowledge (as a moral nation) to stop stealing, stop lieing and stop cheating.  And with the help of God and self-control, we are able to end these things almost immediately.  Daily we must ask Jesus to help us remove & clean these evident sins, like using bad language.  Something that naturally happens to us, whether it be through rage that a curse word slips or because this is our "normal" speech.

And once we master that daily cleansing, with the help of God, we will be able to sense/discover and notice all those lingering sins.  The tiny ones we don't know are there.  That are hidden deep in our hearts.

In an age where social media is a common means for communication, we are subject to seeing the everyday awesome lives of others.  How beautiful & spacious their homes are.  How many new shoes they purchase a week.  How fun their trip to London must've been.  And we begin to wish we were able to have that and obtain those things.  Once these thoughts creep into our minds they continually affect & stump our spiritual growth.  It teaches us that we're not grateful for what we already have.  For our weekend getaways (aka vacation), to a nearby, yet far enough to be away from anyone we know, city.  For our 2 bedroom apartments.  For the 2 pairs of shoes and 1 pair of sneakers we have.  These thoughts create envy and jealousy in our hearts.  Which lead us to either hate the people who have more than us, make us feel insecure & unsuccessful, or drive us to spend more to catch up to them.

James 3:14 - But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

James 3:16 - For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Proverbs 14:30 - A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

And it is with these hidden sins that we must be careful.  Because they go unnoticed and creep in quietly.

I pray God examines my heart each day and uproots all these nasty & evil & selfish sins that don't please my savior, and robs me of my happiness.  I pray He reveals them to me and shows me how to sense when it's trying to sneak back in.  I pray that the daily cleansing on my heart, mind and soul will increase my love of God and will help me appreciate my life...

As it is...

Dirty dishes.  8 smelly laundry baskets.  And all.

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
x0, d

07 January 2014

the MOST difficult...

... PB&J sandwich was made by me on Monday afternoon.  

I'm not a fan of those, so I was happy to make it for Gio.  The problem arose during the 4 minutes it took to get it done.  
Not only was my 3 year old son dancing in the kitchen as the aroma of fresh white bread turned golden in the toaster, (see how exaggerated simple food becomes now?), but he also, in his 3 year old creative mind, made up a PB&J song.  

Goes something like: "Yummy.  Mmm.  Peanut butter n jelly.  Tasty, yummy.  Peanut butter n jelly". 
 And in between each chorus he'd stop to ask 2 questions: 
#1 was I, in fact, making him one? 
And #2 was I done making it yet?

If that wasn't tempting enough, he then proceeded to moan n groan, and stare ever so lovingly at his adoring sandwich.  With each bite (which by the way were tiny nibbles - prolonging the process), I caught myself fantasizing about the taste.  And how creamy the PB was having been spread on hot toast.

Our fast is a partial fast for 21 days.  
We have a juice for breakfast that consists of apples, carrots, broccoli & ginger.  Hubby adds celery to his mix.  
And it's quite tasty and nourishing.  

Normally I'd have eggs, scrambled with all sorts of veggies & cheeses & spices, layered on a nice piece of toasted French bread with a schmear of mayo on 1 side.  A large cup of coffee, warmed up frothy milk (like Pastor JR taught me), and 6-8 splenda packettes.  And a little bit of Maury every once in a while. 

So to go from that, to a half a cup of veggie/fruit juice and having a conversation with a puppy & toddler IS a sacrifice.

For lunch I have been cutting up 1 pear into 1" pieces, cuz I find that it lasts longer and looks bountiful.  Green grapes mixed with the pear make for a unique delicious flavor.  It's amazing how wonderful everything tastes when you stop eating garbage.

Dinner is served after 6pm.  Veggies cooked & lightly seasoned, with some sort of fish or poultry.

The menu seems to be what most HEALTHY Americans consume on a regular basis.  But we're Ricans, and at least for us, everything we eat is either sweet, fatty or salty.  
Don't get me started on our snacking habits!!!

Each person's fast will be different.  The point is to create a menu for yourself that consists of some sort of food sacrifice.  If you normally eat healthy.  Maybe eliminate the seasoning.  Or just drink water, no fruit for lunch.  If you are on medication or pregnant, your level of food sacrifice will be different.  You can also abstain from reading magazines, put away your movies, game systems and remote.  It all depends on what you're willing to give up as a token of offering.

At the discipleship class on Monday night some people discussed how they were eating until 3pm, then nothing after.  And others only ate 1 piece of fruit all day.

Hubby playing with Moses after the class.
He's so adorable!

And here is "La La", she was not ashamed to share how hungry she was...
And how she was dreaming of chicken wings.
And I was right there with her "dipped in Ranch, mmm!"

Our fast seems a little easier, but it is still a sacrifice.  And even though we are controlling our portions and ingredients, I find myself looking for new ways to make grilled zucchini: salt, pepper, garlic, parsley & extra virgin olive oil.  

My exact reply to my husband's 'Oh No You Didn't! stare was, "What!?? IT'S ALL NATURAL!!!".

Yummy.  Mmm.  Grilled zucchini.  Tasty, yummy.  Grilled zucchini.


Matthew 4:4 (ESV) - But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
x0, d

03 January 2014

21 Days.

For the past 2+ years I devoted so much time to crafting.

Don't get me wrong, I love it.  It has helped me develop a few talents.  Connected me to amazing people, with great hearts and fabulous artistic skills.  Tested my creativity.  And allowed me to inspire others as well.

For the past 2+ years I devoted SO MUCH time to crafting.

I realized in the last couple of months of 2013 that I needed to invest in myself more.
That I wanted to be healthy Spiritually, Mentally and Physically.
That I needed to make drastic life changes.
From trying new recipes for dinner to reading different books at night.  And for this DRASTIC change to occur, I needed to make time for it.  Which means shifting priorities, sleep habits, daily chores, etc.

When our pastor first mentioned a Daniel fast, I thought (at most) it would be 3-7 days.  Cake!  Then he said "21 Days!" and I nearly cried.  lol.  Of course, the fast was not mandatory, but still I knew it was something that my body & soul longed for.  At first I thought it meant only drinking water for that long a period; which I could certainly use, to be honest with you, but I soon found out that there are different ways to go about it.

The purpose: sacrificing something you love both physically and mentally, and investing time into studying the bible, praying and seeking God.
This seemed doable and necessary.
I had been wanting more out of my life.  It can't just be about making cards, coloring and raising a smart boy.  There has to be more to life than just laundry every 2 weeks and Real Housewives of Atlanta.  Or checking my Instagram feed to see if anyone is sharing a coupon code to an online craft shop, or what new goodies are available at Michaels.  Bottom line - keeping myself distracted with too much of all these things has stopped me from really living life, the way God intended.  The way the adult me yearns for.

I decided to take this fast serious.  So not only am I going to give up all social media, junk food and any other food that isn't natural or healthy.  But I'm also going to stay away from Crafting & Shopping til the end of January.

The most I've ever gone without crafting is 10 days (just recently), when I got sick on Christmas Eve and was forced to stay in bed.  I could barely get up since my body was so achy.  And I'll be honest, it wasn't that bad.  I rather enjoyed being away from my craftroom, if you can believe that!  Cuz if you know me personally, you know I LOVE to create.

I have installed and purchased some books on my Nexus (a Christmas gift from the hubz that I didn't know I would enjoy as much as I have been).  Started my chronological bible reading for the year (which I've always wanted to do and am excited about finally getting to it).  And started a year-long journal.

I'll also be dusting off my 6-month-long Filofax "TO-DO" list; including things like "purge", "donate clothes", "sort through closets", and "scrub the window sills".  You know.  Things a normal housewife should ALREADY be doing if she were responsible and had her priorities straight.  lol.

But more importantly and aside from all that, I'll be seeking God in a different way.  Something I've thought to do before, but never made time for.  Something I need in order to fulfill the "One Little Word" I chose for 2014; "CHANGE".

And I'll be recording & sharing my thoughts, discoveries and growth; here.
With you.
x0, d